The Bill, which aims at tackling gender inequalities, and other discrimination against the elderly, will leave employers until 2013 to publish average hourly rates for men and women.

The move, which had been promised by the government before the last election, effects large employers – those employing over 250 staff – aims at ‘making Britain more equal’, according to Minister for Equality Harriet Harman. Additionally, the Bill will also ban “gagging clauses” from contracts, which prevents employees from revealing details of their pay.

“This is about employers coming clean with their employees”, she said.

“Unless we can see it workplace by workplace it stays swept under the carpet – that unfairness stays hidden and we can’t tackle it, if it’s hidden”.

She also stressed that the economic downturn should not be used as an excuse to leave such inequalities unchecked.

“The economies and societies which will prosper in the future are not those that have rigid hierarchies, where women know their place and where you can’t go forward because of the colour of your skin,” she said.

Men are averaging 23% more per hour than women, even forty years after the introduction of the Equal Pay Act.